October 19, 2015

What would our lives be like if we could not sense what was going on around us, or happening to us — if we were unaware of the world in which we live? Would we really even exist?

The reality is that our existence is realized through our senses.

Imagine a car that didn’t have a sensor to indicate that the engine was getting too hot, an oven that could not register or regulate the heat, or a refrigerator that could not sense the cold.

Similarly, our minds are decoding devices that perceive and process various chemical, mechanical, electrical, light, and temperature stimuli in our environment that enable us to react and respond in appropriate ways.

In fact, sensing is so normal throughout our daily experience that we don’t even have to think about it — sensing just happens.

God Made Sense

God possesses the innate ability to sense, and is the author of sense. In creating us in His image we were designed with the ability to sense.

In His goodness, He equipped each of us with 5 innate and essential senses:

Hearing

Taste

Sight

Touch

Smell

Each of these 5 senses gives us the ability to experience the world around us.

Without our senses, life just doesn’t make sense.

Imagine if we could not hear:

How would we ever know the beauty of a bird singing outside our window, or the joy of hearing our favorite Christmas carol as we celebrate the birth of Christ?

How would we avoid the car accident if we could not hear the honking of the horn warning us of the impending danger? Oh no!

Imagine if we could not taste:

How would we know the pleasure of eating a filet mignon that has been delectably marinated and barbequed to perfection?

How would we know that the olive oil had turned rancid? Yuck!

Imagine if we could not see:

How could we appreciate a glorious sunset, or enjoy a smile of approval from someone we respect.

How would we avoid the cliff we are about to walk off? Oops!

Imagine if we could not feel physical sensation:

How could we know the comfort of a compassionate hug, or the relief of a hot shower or bath after a stressful day?

How would we know to take our hand out of the fire? Ouch!

Imagine if we could not smell:

How would we know it was dinnertime, or enjoy the aroma of the Thanksgiving Turkey wafting through the house all day long as it browns in the oven?

How would we know if we were going to like a new type of food at the buffet? Hmm?

These 5 senses are blessings from God — maybe that’s why Jesus healed the blind, deaf, mute, paralyzed, and lepers. The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus came to bring abundant life. Having our senses fully functioning enables us to experience the fullness of life — wellbeing.

Interestingly, when someone loses one of their 5 senses, they tend to compensate with other senses.

For example, a person who has lost their sight, overcompensates with an incredible sense of hearing — they hear things that most people would not even notice. A person who has lost their hearing sees things that others would overlook.

Sensing is Essential — It makes sense.

Extra Sensory Perception

In addition to the natural 5 senses given to experience the material world, there is a spiritual realm in which we must be able to discern in order to have wellbeing.

God uniquely created us with the innate ability to sense God’s supernatural presence — to hear His voice, experience His touch, to smell His glorious fragrance, to taste and see that He is good.

While the natural and supernatural 5 senses are essential for a full life of wellbeing, there is another, extra, sense, that many overlook.

God also created us with the ability to “feel” — to sense our emotions — to know what is going on inside of us, so that we can respond appropriately to the world around us. Without the sense of “feeling,” we would not know how to interpret the other natural 5 senses or to navigate through life.

For example, when we feel depressed, we may deduce that a cold virus is coming on, and that we need to do something to bring health to our body. When we feel afraid, we may deduce that we should run from the growling dog. When we feel discouraged, we may need to reread the prophetic words we have received.

There is no Shame in Feeling

It is important to recognize that we are not just body, mind, and spirit – we are also emotions, which are characterized by feelings.

There is a world of feelings and emotions that are as real, and needed, for wellbeing in life, just as sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste to navigate through the material world.

While we are not defined by our feelings, our feelings help us define what is happening in us and to us. Our feelings and emotions also determine how we will navigate through life’s circumstances, conflicts, and connections.

Our needs are often couched in our emotions, and our emotions are expressed through our feelings.

Our feelings express our fulfillment and wellbeing or our disappointment and dis-ease in various ways.

For example, we may feel:

Worthy or Worthless

Approved or Shamed

Adequate or Lacking

Successful or like a Failure

Valuable or Insignificant

Important or Inferior

Respected or Degraded

Accepted or Rejected

Love or Hatred

Peace or Anxiety

Pleasure or Pain

Passionate or Apathetic

Confident or Fearful

Secure or Uncertain

Satisfied or Unhappy

Content or Wanting

Challenged or Punished

Comforted or Sorrowful

Excited or Discouraged

Enjoyment or Discomfort

Joyful or Depressed

Elated or Sad

Cheerful or Angry

Connected or Alone

Those are just some of the emotions that God gave us for the capacity to feel.

Feeling is Good

Many people are afraid of feelings. Many discount their feelings as being immature, or ignore them because they have been taught that feelings are opposed to faith and maturity in Christ.

Moreover, most Christians are taught that emotions are bad – that they are part of the “flesh”.

Clement, who was a Christian Gnostic and early Church Father, impressed aestheticism on the church, in that he taught that emotions were part of the fallen sin nature of man, and therefore, needed to be cut off, in order to grow spiritually. He stated that, “The goal of the Christian is not to simply manage one’s emotions, but to eradicate them.”

While it is true that we are not to be governed by our feelings or make decisions solely based upon our feelings, we do need our feelings to help us know what we need, and how to respond to the environment around us — Feelings help us define what is happening to us and in us.

It’s O.K. to feel the feelings.

I learned a long time ago that feelings are not right or wrong – they just are.

What I didn’t realize was that feelings and emotions are an essential element of the way God has made us, and a key to our wellbeing.

I want to encourage you to practice these 3 simple steps below for one week. You may need to get a longer list of feeling words mentioned above to help you to begin to identify your specific emotions.

Ask yourself these three questions:

What am I feeling right now?

Why am I feeling this way right now?

What am I going to do about the way I feel right now?

Being aware of our feelings and emotions is the beginning of understanding what we need in our environment, and what we need from our environment – Spiritually, physically, and relationally.

Growing in our awareness of what and how we feel allows us to request and pursue our needs being met by God, ourselves, and others, which makes perfect sense.

I would love to hear how your life is benefited from this blog. Remember to tell your friends how you feel about it.

Topics: All TopicsIdentity


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